Taking tests

Preparing for tests

  • Keep up with your reading assignments so that studying for a test will be a review of familiar material. Frantic, last-minute cramming of new material usually results in faulty remembering.
  • To avoid completely rereading textbook assignments later, prepare them for reviewing by underlining key words and phrases and outlining underlined material.
  • Do not be afraid to ask questions about material you do not understand. You cannot remember something unless you first understand it.
  • Review each course at least once a week during the semester. Reread class notes, workbook exercises, outside reading notes, textbook underlining, etc.
  • In reviewing, spend the most time on the material that is least familiar, but review briefly the material that is most familiar.
  • In reviewing, prepare a list of likely test questions and make certain that you can give the correct answers to each in your own words.
  • Keep, correct, and review returned quizzes and exams. Check with your instructor if you are uncertain about the correct answer to a question that you missed.
  • Study and practice on questions from your textbook, workbook, previous exams and other sources also available from your instructor.
  • Ask the instructor what material will be covered on an examination — textbook assignments, class lectures, outside reading, movies and filmstrips, laboratory experiments, etc.

How to avoid cramming for tests

  • Regularly check the syllabus or calendar, highlighting exam dates.
  • Make a study plan for each exam.
  • Keep up with assigned readings.
  • Review class notes regularly.
  • Reward yourself for preparing productively.
  • Plan to reserve the night before for concentrated study.
  • A little at a time is much better than all at once.

True/false strategies:

  • Read the question carefully.
  • Go with your hunch.
  • Watch for key words:

                  Absolutes (never, always, etc.) are probably false.
                  Relatives (some, etc.) are probably true.
  • If a part of it is false, all of it is false.
  • Answer all questions (unless there is a penalty for guessing).

Short-Answer strategies
These questions demonstrate how well you can explain concepts briefly.

  • Write clear, logical and brief answers.
  • Writing more than asked for or including information not asked for suggests that you do not understand the concepts.
  • Other items on the test may provide clues to help you answer questions that stump you.

Strategies for test taking
One strategy that works for almost
all tests:​

  • If an answer comes quickly, go with it!
  • If you’re really not sure, come back to it later.

Essay question strategies:

  • Read the question carefully.
  • What is the question asking for?
  • Outline the key ideas.
  • Refer specifically to the question in your opening sentence.
  • Make a clear, coherent thesis statement.
  • Develop the main body of the essay to support your thesis statement.
  • Conclude by summarizing how your thesis is supported.
  • Watch grammar, spelling and punctuation.
  • Be sure you have completely answered the question.
  • Proofread your work.

Multiple-choice strategies:

  • Read the question carefully, and try to answer it before you read the choices.
  • Strike out wrong answers.
  • Mark answers clearly and consistently.
  • Change answers cautiously. Beware of second-guessing yourself.
  • Read all the options before making a choice.
  • If you don’t know an answer, move on.
  • If all else fails, make an educated guess!

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